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FEATURE: Scaling the heights to raise awareness of climate compatible development

A four month trek along the Great Himalaya Trail in Nepal, led by the world record holding mountaineer Apa Sherpa and in partnership with the Government of Nepal, is raising awareness of climate compatible development in this highly vulnerable region. A series of reports and guest blogs for CDKN in the months ahead will explore what the team finds and learns about climate compatible development along the 1,700 km route.

The Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) covers the entire length of Nepal, from Kanchenjunga in the East to Humla in the West. It cuts through 20 districts each of which tells a different story about the extreme vulnerability of the region to climate change.

The Nepal Climate Trek is aiming to raise awareness about the effects of climate change on this region. The ‘headline’ impacts are well known: Erratic monsoons and rain and snowfall patterns; flash floods and landslides; frequent forest fires and alarming increase in the number of glacial lake formation. But what is less reported is the human impact this is having.

As the Climate Trek team travels through some of the world’s most remote villages they will be reporting on how lives and livelihoods are changing. Far away from the international media, their stories rarely get told and can be easily forgotten.

The legendary Mountaineer Apa Sherpa who holds the world record of climbing Mount Everest the maximum number of time (21), together with climate campaigner Mountaineer Dawa Steven Sherpa will be leading the Climate Trek along the 1,700km, 120-day trail. They are accompanied by Saurav Dhakal, the British Council International Climate Champion and Samir Jung Thapa, one of the most brilliant photographers of Nepal.

As Apa Sherpa said “The world wants to support Nepali communities in their climate battle but they need to be told how and where. My effort to walk from East to West in Nepal is to find places and people that need the attention and help of the world in their climate battle”.

The team will also be highlighting the opportunities that responsible and climate smart tourism can bring to the region. Nepal is famous as a world-class trekking destination but many of the less developed areas along the GHT tend to get ignored by the tourist companies, despite offering an amazing experience. There is also the challenge of making sure the benefits of tourism reach the local communities and that it does not further harm the environment.

His Excellency, Rt. Honorable Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, President, of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal flagged off the team on the 12th January, 2012 with the worlds; “This trek will help to identify the impacts of Climate Change in the Himalayas, and showcase how sustainable tourism can be used as a tool for poverty reduction and to build climate-resilience among impoverished mountain communities in Nepal”.

Diplomats and celebraties have given their best wishes to the mountaineers, and it has received widespread international and local media coverage. German Ambassador, Verena Gräfin von Roedern is even joining the trek to show support.

The team have been keeping the world up to date through their daily blogs, videos, photographs, facebook and twitter.  They are also carrying out a research project documenting the climate adaptation needs of communities along the trail.  A series of blogs for CDKN in the weeks and months ahead will share the highlights of this work.

We occasionally invite bloggers from around the world to provide their experiences and views. The views expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of CDKN.

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